Page 1

Key cleaning areas

Improve home energy

Overlooked projects

spring Home Improvement 2



The right garage door

Kitchen design tips

Ultimate 'boomer cave'




Kitchen, bath upgrades

Attic-to-bonus rooms

Update decor, trends




A 'wow'-worthy entry

Build to save heat costs

Super wifi kitchens




Fresh air for your home

Decluttering made easy

Bird-window collisions




Spring cleaning:

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016

8 areas you can’t overlook

wipe down the inside of the dryer with soapy water. 4. Electronic screens. Computer and flat-screens can get spotty. Give all of your screens a cleaning with a screensafe spray or wipes designed for monitors. 5. Bath mat. You step on it almost every day, so if you’re not washing your bath mat regularly, then you’re step-

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The right garage door for you


Kitchen, bath upgrades


Design a 'wow'-worthy entry


A breath of fresh air for home


Improve your home's energy


Kitchen design tips


Attic-to-bonus room conversions 8


Build to save heat costs


Decluttering made easy


Cleaning projects to not put off


The ultimate 'boomer cave'


Update decor, trends


Super wifi kitchens


Prevent bird-window collisions


spring Home Improvement Publisher: Devin Hamilton DESIGN/LAYOUT: Michelle Cote, art director, Shelley Richard, Claire Smith Advertising: Dayle Pennell, Devin Hamilton, Justin Chenette Bradford Laverriere, Bobbie Manning NEWS CONTENT: Journal Tribune News Staff, Submitted Content




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Cleaning areas to not overlook



469 Elm St. (Rte 1), Biddeford

ping in leftover dead skin particles, soap scum and dirt after showering. Terry cloth and rubber mats can be machine washed while wooden mats can be wiped down with an all-purpose cleaner. 6. Dishwasher. That wonderful appliance in your kitchen does in fact need to be cleaned too. First, remove and rinse the filter (detachable cylindri-


(BPT) — Spring is here, which means it’s time to start cleaning. While a good wipe down can leave your home feeling clean, there are several overlooked items that could be hosting germs, dirt and dust. So when you’re ready to get out the broom, mop and rags, don’t forget to tidy up these areas of the home. 1. Bed pillows. Clean your pillows every six months by popping them in the washing machine. For the best results, wash two pillows at a time to help keep the washer balanced. 2. Washing machine. Run an empty washer through a “Normal” cycle to keep your washer delivering at its best performance. Whirlpool brand washers like the Cabrio High-Efficiency Top Load Washer also feature a “Clean Washer” cycle. 3. Dryer. In addition to cleaning out the lint trap, use the nozzle attachment of your vacuum to suck out any dirt that makes its way into the dryer. Then,

cal filter located on the bottom of the dishwasher) under the faucet. Large food particles can get stuck in the filter which may cause a funky odor. Next, place a dishwasher-safe cup full of vinegar on the empty dishwasher’s top rack. Run a full cycle, using the hot-water setting. Finally, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot-water cycle. 7. Ceiling fans and light fixtures. Hard-to-reach lights and fans are easy to forget. Use a soft microfiber cloth to remove large amounts of dust on ceiling fans, and run glass light fixtures through the dishwasher to bring the sparkle back quickly. 8. Mattress. A clean bed means more than washing your sheets and pillowcases. First, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove any crumbs or dust. Then, blot or rub stains with a combination of hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and baking soda with a clean rag. Finally, sprinkle a light layer of baking soda over the entire mattress and let it sit for a couple of hours. This will absorb any excess liquid from the stain removal process. Hit your mattress with the vacuum once more to remove the powder and leave your mattress smelling fresh and clean. To learn how to tackle spring cleaning in the rest of your house from the refrigerator to microwave, visit Whirlpool Corporation’s Institute of Home Science.





Spring Home Improvement is a publication of the Journal Tribune in Biddeford. (207)282-1535 •

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Select the right garage door design (BPT) — Today’s garage doors come in so many different and attractive designs that the biggest challenge for homeowners is to find the right door that looks best with their home’s unique features. While it’s great to have options, sometimes too many options can be overwhelming. And a garage door purchase is an important one. In fact, an upscale garage door replacement ranked first out of 11 popular upscale projects in delivering the best value for the buck, according to the new 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. One reason for a garage door’s top value is its curb appeal. Since most garage doors face the front of the home, they have enormous impact on the home’s exterior appeal and its perceived value. This greatly increases the importance of choosing the right garage door design for your home. Here are a few tips from Kelly Roberson, a writer and project manager who has written about home design for a variety of publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Before & After, Kitchen Makeovers and many more. “The key to finding the right door design is found on the facade of your home,” she says. “Pick up on your home’s design elements and use them in your garage doors to create a really impactful sense of design cohesiveness.”

Color matching

These garage doors successfully integrate colors and shapes that complement the home’s unique design features. SUBMITTED PHOTO

inspiration for shapes to repeat in your garage door,” says Roberson. Consider any arch shapes on your home, such as arched windows or arched entryways. Several garage door window designs include arched options that can closely match the arch shapes on your home. Some home exteriors contain dominant angles such as 45-degree angles from dormers

or rakes. Since many garage door designs now include crossbucks, you might find success with a garage door that features crossbucks at the same angle. When browsing for door designs, try It’s a non-commercial site that contains photos of dozens of garage door designs from many manufacturers, along with a Dealer

Locator to help you find a professional door dealer near you. “The key to choosing beautiful garage doors is to let your home be your guide. Build on the features you love the best, and choose a new garage door that integrates seamlessly,” says Roberson. “When you find the right match, you’ll smile with satisfaction every time you come home.”


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Shape matching

After considering the right color, look at the shapes on your home, particularly those of your windows and the smaller windowpanes inside the windows. Garage doors typically contain two dominant shapes: one on the panels themselves and one in the windows. The challenge is to match the shapes on the home with the shapes on the door. “In the same way that accent colors provide color guidance, accent shapes - small windows, peaks on roofs – can give you

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Roberson recommends paying attention to two key design elements in your home’s exterior: colors and shapes. Start with the colors of your home. Since garage doors are now available in hundreds of colors, you are likely to find a great door color that matches your home.

“Color can feel overwhelming, particularly when you think about making a good curb appeal impression,” says Roberson. “An easy trick is to turn to the accent colors already on your home’s facade. Pick one and use it in your garage doors for overall balance and beauty.” Your home’s accent colors are often found on your shutters, your front door, or the trim on your home or window. If your home includes a multicolored brick, look for a dominant or attractive color inside the brick. The color of the roof can also be a strong design element for the front view of the home. It’s often a neutral color that presents a good choice for classic garage door colors. Note that you might be searching for two colors, not just one. Many new carriage house garage doors come in two tones that provide additional color-matching opportunities. “Most homes use three colors – a dominant color and two sub-colors that are used to a lesser degree,” says Roberson. “For your garage doors, try flopping that color scheme so that one of the sub-colors becomes the door’s dominant hue.”


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Kitchen, bath upgrades make ‘the whole package’

(BPT) — Great bathrooms and kitchens really do sell homes, so it makes sense to invest in upgrades that are the whole package. They look great, are stylish, functional and enjoyable, and will give you a decent return on your investment when it comes time to sell. Here are six kitchen and bathroom improvements that really are the total package: 1. Granite countertops Countertops are both a major design feature and a vital necessity in both kitchens and baths. New, quality countertops improve the appearance and function of either room. Of course, granite is still a top choice for kitchen counters but it also goes well in the bathroom, giving vanities a highend look. A USA Today study found more than half of buyers said they would pay more for a

home with granite countertops. 2. Skylights Whether in a kitchen or bathroom, adding solar-powered, fresh-air skylights will brighten the space with abundant daylight and freshen the air with natural ventilation that exhausts heat, humidity and odors. In baths, they also provide privacy. Some Energy Star-qualified no leak skylights can be operated by a touchpad programmable remote control, as can solar powered blinds in an array of designer colors and patterns, and are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for the skylights, blinds and the cost of installation. Skylights make it possible to add natural light even in first-floor kitchens or bathrooms where there is no direct roof access. To learn more, and to locate local dealers and certified installers, visit


Energy Star-qualified solar powered fresh air skylights brighten your kitchen and dining area while silently exhausting cooking odors. Energy efficient solar blinds allow you to adjust the light during the day and control heat gain or loss as well. The skylights and blinds, along with installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

3. Quality lighting Lighting is both a practical and design consideration for kitchens and bathrooms. In addition to natural light

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sources, such as skylights and windows, it’s a good investment to install upgraded light fixtures. You should have multiple layers of light, including overhead for both rooms, task lighting or under-the-cabinet lighting in kitchens, and vanity lighting in the bathroom. Your design options are vast, and upgrading your lighting can be both a design statement and an improvement that enhances livability. 4. Eco-friendly fixtures and appliances Of course you know new appliances and fixtures can make kitchens and baths look more appealing to buyers, and more enjoyable for you while you live in your home. But their value will be even greater if you choose options that can also help reduce your water, sewer and utility bills. From low-flow showerheads and ultra-high-efficiency toilets, to Energy Star-qualified dishwashers and refrigerators, ecofriendly fixtures and appliances are great design choices that will put money back in your pocket for years to come. 5. Tile Tile is a big win for both kitchens and baths. Replacing

worn or dated tile in showers or bathroom floors improves the look and function of the room. In kitchens, adding a tile backsplash is an affordable way to make a design statement while protecting walls from cooking spatters. Tile can also serve as a countertop material in kitchens and baths, where design flexibility and durability are essential. 6. Organization and storage solutions From dishes, pots, pans and foodstuff in the kitchen, to towels and personal care items in the bathroom, you probably have a lot of stuff that needs to be stored in both rooms. So will future buyers! Adding cabinet and drawer organizers, as well as extra storage solutions, can make it easier for you to use both rooms. Plus, it will help reduce clutter, giving your kitchen and bath a more open, clean look. You don’t need a huge budget to make kitchen and bathroom upgrades that really are the whole package. Even a minor renovation in either room can have a big impact on your home’s livability, beauty and resale value.

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Design an entry with free online tools to make people go


(BPT) — Entire TV shows are dedicated to it, and real estate agents say it is essential when selling your home. So what is “curb appeal?” More importantly, how do you create it for your home? Even if you’re not planning to sell your home any time soon, some simple steps to boost the attractiveness of your home from the street (so called “curb appeal”) can make it feel more appealing to you and your guests. Start with the front door. From TV to magazines to popular websites, many home improvement experts call out the front door as one of the most important aspects for creating curb appeal. “While curb appeal depends on many factors – landscaping and siding, lighting and lawn care - the front door, the focal point of the facade, trumps the others in terms of importance,” says Donna Boyle Schwartz, a home furnishing writer and editor. Schwartz and other experts offer a range of tips for enlivening your front door. At the most basic level, a new coat of paint for the front door is a simple and inexpensive update that only takes a

few hours to complete. More homeowners are experimenting with bold primary colors on their doors to make the front of their home pop. But if you’re worried that a bright yellow or red might be too much for your tastes, several paint manufacturers offer free online color visualization tools. With a few clicks, you can see how any hue will look next to the color of your home’s siding and trim. Other ways to perk up your front door include new handles and locksets. A quick visit to, or other no-cost to access online resources will show you the range of creative options available. For many homeowners, the ultimate way to perk up their front entry is by replacing the door. “Not only does replacing your front entry door kick up your curb appeal, it’s a solid investment with a decent payback,” explains home improvement journalist Karin Beuerlein on A new door provides opportunities to personalize the home’s entry to best suit your current tastes. Whether it’s a major style change like a switch from Colonial to contemporary, a

different type of decorative glass or your favorite wood species, manufacturers offer many ways to make a front door truly your own. As with paint, many homeowners find it difficult to picture how different door styles would look on their homes. “To make the process of finding a door simple and fun, we’ve created

a range of free online design tools,” notes Brad Loveless, product development and marketing manager for Simpson Door Company. “Called Doormagination, these tools include a ‘test drive,’ in which you can upload a photo of your home and compare different door designs.” Such tools allow people to quickly explore the

range of options and to see what their personalized door will look like before they order it. You don’t have to be a design guru to add curb appeal to your home. Paint and door manufacturers, even some local landscape companies, now offer fun and easy-to-use tools to create a “wow-worthy” home entry.

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journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

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Tips to Improve your home’s energy

Give your home a breath of fresh air (BPT) — Spring is in the air, and that means tackling home improvement projects you’ve been putting off all winter long. As you plan for these projects over the warmer months, include steps to improve your family’s home environment, both inside and outside. Your house will be a better, more comfortable place to live. Conserve water. Help preserve this precious resource by replacing any leaky indoor faucets in your kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Also, think about

replacing your showerhead with a low-flow model. Outdoors, check the watering hose faucet for leaks and replace it if needed. And when mowing the lawn, recommends setting the blades 2 to 3 inches high because the longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention and helping the grass survive drought and tolerate insect damage. Reduce indoor pollutants. Improve your home’s indoor air quality. EPA studies indicate indoor air may be 25 times,

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and occasionally more than 100 times, more polluted than outdoor air. A whole-house air cleaner can remove up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles and allergens from the filtered air, such as dust, pollen, bacteria, pet dander, mold spores and smoke. Seal air leaks. Keep cool air in and hot air out by sealing leaks and adding insulation. Areas to check for repairs include the attic, garage and unfinished basement. Throughout the house, ensure that all cooling and heating vents and registers meet the floors, walls and ceilings and are well sealed. Keep cool more efficiently. Upgrading your cooling system to a more efficient one can save home energy consumption, helping to save you money. Shield windows from the hot sun. Seasonal heat comes indoors from windows, too, so close draperies and shades, or install them in rooms that don’t already have them. Outside, create some natural shade near the windows by planting a tree, tall bushes or adding awnings on the sunniest side of the house. Control indoor temperatures. Ensure a more comfortable home environment by adding a programmable HVAC control.

(BPT) — With spring upon us and the emphasis on home energy efficiency continuing to grow, building industry experts say now is the best time for homeowners considering a home improvement project to look at how energy efficient their home truly is. Homeowners should ask themselves, “How much energy is being lost through inefficiencies in my home and how much is this energy loss costing me each month?” The U.S. Department of Energy suggests there are several inexpensive and quick ways to reduce energy consumption and lower monthly energy bills. Installing a programmable thermostat can contribute to a 10 percent reduction on heating and cooling costs. Lowering your water heater’s temperature by just a few degrees can make a noticeable impact on reducing your water heating bills. The ways your home uses light can also make a noticeable impact. Using natural light to your advantage and relying less on artificial light can contribute to improving your home’s energy efficiency. Also, installing ENERGY STAR-rated high efficiency windows can help reduce energy loss.

Working with an expert

Homeowners serious about optimizing their home’s energy efficiency should consider working with a certified Home Energy Rater. These professionals conduct a series of tests to assess a home’s energy efficiency to provide an overall efficiency rating in much the same way that appliances are rated. Equipped with this infor-

mation, homeowners can make home improvement decisions that further boost their home’s energy efficiency. One way to optimize energy efficiency and minimize energy loss is to limit air leakage. Insulation experts say homeowners should survey their house from top to bottom, and assess any trouble spots such as drafty areas or cold zones which could be caused by air leakage. Air leakage can limit the effectiveness of heating and cooling systems, and therefore your home’s energy efficiency. According to InsulationSmart. com, floors, walls and ceilings can account for up to 31 percent of air leakage in a home. Spray foam insulation, which can help reduce air leakage, is growing in popularity among homeowners since it is an energy-efficient material that delivers year-round benefits. When installed, spray foam insulation, like that from Icynene, expands within seconds of application to create an insulation and air seal that fills every nook and cranny to limit air loss. Spray foam insulation works well in all types of homes across the country, regardless of climate to limit air loss and maintain even temperatures throughout the home all year round. Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures throughout the year without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment. More information on how spray foam insulation contributes to energy efficiency is available online at

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016

(BPT) — Tackling a home improvement project can be a really daunting task - whether it’s a simple redecoration or a full kitchen renovation. You may feel like you’re the only homeowner, ever, to have questions. Renowned designer and LG Studio Artistic Advisor, Nate Berkus, has answered design questions from homeowners for more than 20 years, and he’s found that the same ones keep cropping up. “Redesigning your kitchen is a big investment,” says Berkus. “It’s not just about the money; you’re also investing a lot of time and emotion. There are so many decisions to make, and you want them to be the right ones. You also want to create a space that reflects the people who live there. A well-designed kitchen needs to be functional and personalized.” Berkus offers answers to four design questions that commonly confound homeowners: 1. Where do I even begin? Berkus recommends starting with a vision of what kind of kitchen you want to create. “There is so much design inspiration out there Instagram, Pinterest, design blogs, etc. Find out what you are drawn to and what catches your eye. Ask yourself - how do we want to live in the space, and what’s important to us? The design needs to support that,” says Berkus. A redesign doesn’t have to

Tried and true kitchen redesign tips always mean a full renovation, time. A kitchen is also about or that you need to do it all at bringing people together. We do once. “Painting cabinets can be a lot of living and create a lot of a weekend procmemories in our ess, and change kitchens.” “If you don’t start with the appliances To make the innovative, hard-working when you have most of your appliances, it doesn’t the budget. You kitchen renovation matter what backsplash can do it piecedollars, Berkus you are using,” meal,” notes recommends – Nate Berkus, designer Berkus. shopping local 2. How do I vintage shops make the best or multi-dealer use of my renoantique malls for vation dollars one-of-a-kind in the kitchen? items such as light The kitchen fixtures and seatis the number ing. Even shop one room that your own home for consumers are things like trays, most likely bowls and objects to splurge on that could get when renovatnew life displayed ing, according and used in your to a nationwide kitchen. study from LG 3. What’s the Studio. So is it most important really worth it? thing to invest in “Absolutely,” during a renovasays Berkus. “It’s tion? hands down the hardest work“If you don’t start with innoing room in your home, and vative, hard-working appliances, you need it to stand the test of it doesn’t matter what backsplash

you are using,” says Berkus. “A kitchen needs to function, and great appliances are at the heart of that. They are 100 percent worth the investment.” 4. Tastes change, so how can I be sure I won’t hate all this five years from now? “The biggest thing is not to get sidetracked by trends. I always say if something was considered beautiful 10 years ago, it probably will still be

beautiful in 10 years,” says Berkus. When investing money, Berkus recommends always reaching for what is classic and what has stood the test of time things like subway tile, Carrara marble, butcher block and painted-wood cabinets. “A typical renovation takes several months, but trends change often,” notes Berkus. “If you pick out a backsplash or cabinet color because someone told you that is the hottest thing right now, by the time it’s installed chances are you’ll have moved on to something else.” Redesigning and renovating a kitchen can be a rewarding, enjoyable experience - especially with some advice from a design professional.

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journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Attic-to-bonus room conversions are tops

(BPT) — Open floor plans, mini-mansions, micro homes - some home design styles and elements shift with the currents of consumer tastes. However, others stand the test of time because they’re enduringly useful. Attics or lofts, for example, are a staple of American home design, remaining in demand even as the way we use them has evolved. In bygone eras, attics served largely as storage space – but those were the days before the growth of the self-storage industry. Modern homeowners can stash their stuff outside their home, opening up a range of other possible uses for their attics, from master suites, extra bedrooms or home office to workout rooms and craft centers. Homeowners are as eager as ever to convert attics, and the trend isn’t limited to people buying older homes. Many builders are incorporating

wonderful, well-lit multi-purpose room.” Adding skylights to your attic conversion is a cost effective way to upgrade both the appearance and functionality of the space. The latest solarpowered models, which close automatically in case of rain, along with solar-powered blinds, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit on the products and installation costs. To learn more, visit www.

Bedrooms and bathrooms are things of beauty

An underused attic becomes a functional bonus space filled with healthy natural light and ventilation. Energy Star-qualified solar powered fresh air skylights close automatically in case of rain and carry a 10-year warranty against leaks. Operated by touchpad remote control, the skylights, energy efficient solar powered blinds, and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

attics into new construction to please buyers who want the flexibility of finishing the space as they like later on. If you’re

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Light from above

Some attics are constructed with windows, others have none. Whether your attic has a small window or solid walls, skylights and roof windows are the go-to choice for bringing natural light and fresh air into an attic space. The direct access to the roof means it’s easy to add no-leak skylights. Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights provide ample natural light, privacy (an advantage in bedrooms and bathrooms), and ventilation (also great for bathrooms and kitchens). Programmable remote controls make it simple to open and close fresh-air skylights, and to operate solarpowered blinds that allow you to decide just how much or how little light enters the room. Skylights are a great aesthetic fit for attics too, and can help large or small attic spaces feel brighter and bigger. JoAnne Haynes, project designer for the O’More College of Design Alumni Show House, utilized skylights for the attic conversion on that project and says that it was an amazing transformation. “It went from a dark, black, unusable space to a

With more families housing multiple generations under the same roof, additional bedrooms and bathrooms are popular objectives of attic conversions. Homeowners with very large attics can convert the space into a dream master suite, complete with a spacious bedroom and full bathroom. If your home already has a great master, or if your attic space is more modest, you can still convert even a small attic into an extra bedroom or a half bath. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, a master suite addition recoups more than 64 percent of its cost when you resell the home. A bathroom addition returns more than 56 percent of your investment.

Homeowners are getting inspired about attics

While extra bedrooms and bathrooms are a great way to use attic space, they’re by no means the only ones. If you have all the bedrooms and baths you need, you can still benefit from an attic conversion to increase your home’s functional living space. Whether you’re adding a family room, workout space, home theater or craft room, that unused space in your attic is the perfect way to create a specialty space without giving up • See Room Conversions, Page 9

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016 • Room Conversions, From Page 8

any other room in the house. Your decorating options are as unlimited as your imagination, too. Some homeowners choose to take advantage of an attic’s naturally rustic look, and leave ceiling beams exposed. Others work within the limita-

tions of a low-ceiling attic to create cozy, right-sized playrooms or bedrooms for kids. Still others put a creative twist on the attic’s original function - storage - to move their wardrobes out of their master suites, allowing them to reclaim walkin closet space for other uses.

Americans have been finding value in attics for generations. If your attic is currently serving as storage space, it may be time to clean it out - and start envisioning the many ways you can brighten and freshen up the space to work better for your family and lifestyle.

Need to clean up the yard? SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Decluttering made easy

Building method to save on heating, cooling costs

(BPT) — If you are planning to build a new home or add on to your existing home, you likely take for granted that it will be constructed with “sticks.” For more than 100 years, homes in North America have been built using hundreds of individual pieces of lumber, wall studs, floor joists and similar framing pieces. Although so-called “stickbuilt” homes are the norm, the resulting walls and roofs are notoriously drafty and difficult to insulate well. As homeowners become more interested in saving on home heating and cooling costs, more are turning to higher performance building methods, such as structural insulated panels, known as SIPs. SIPs are large wall and roof sections made of wood panels laminated to a solid insulating foam core. Because the insulation in SIPs is continuous across the height, length and width of each panel, they are more energy efficient than stick construction, which consists of hundreds of pieces of lumber dividing portions of insulation every 16-24 inches, resulting in numerous gaps for energy exchange and pollutants to enter a building. U.S. Department of Energy tests show SIP structures are up to 15 times more airtight than stick-built construction, and therefore offer higher insulating values. As a result, building with SIPs can reduce home heating/cooling energy use up to 60 percent, saving homeowners money year-after-year for the life of their home. “Everyone is so amazed by

By BETH J. HARPAZ Associated Press

NEW YORK — Reading Marie Kondo’s best-selling books about decluttering is intimidating. I have a complicated relationship with many of my possessions: souvenirs from favorite places, gifts from loved ones. Even if I never use them, how could I part with them? And how could I face my overflowing cupboards and scary closets? But I got over my fears. Ultimately, Kondo’s books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy,” are not so much about throwing things out as they are about “choosing what we want to keep,” as Kondo puts it.


the energy efficiency SIPs provide,” says Scott Bergford, a DOE Energy Value Housing Award Builder of the Year, based in Olympia, Washington. “It only costs an average of $200 to $300 a year to heat one of my homes. That’s anywhere from onefifth to one-six the typical costs for this region, so the savings are pretty significant, and the homeowners love that.” “As they learn what is now possible in construction, more homeowners are asking their builders for high-performance, energy efficient materials like triple pane windows and SIPs,” says Joe Pasma, Technical Manager for Premier SIPs, North America’s largest SIP panel manufacturer. “To further boost our panels’ energy efficiency, soon all of our SIPs will be made with insulating foam enhanced with graphite - a product called Platinum

GPS.” At first glance, a SIP might not look very strong given the rigid foam core. But, extensive testing shows SIPs are structurally superior to lumber framing. When a devastating earthquake struck Kobe, Japan, in 1995, the SIPbuilt structures were some of the few homes that remained standing, despite the severe ground shaking. And, despite being a manufactured component, SIPs can be adapted for use in any architectural style – from Colonial to contemporary. Many homeowners wonder about the cost of SIP construction, given the range of benefits the panels provide. SIPs generally cost about the same as stick construction, considering that they enable faster home construction, reduced heating and cooling equipment and reduced disposal costs from construction waste.

Kondo says sentimental things should be left for last. So I started with the most unsentimental place: the bathroom. There’s no emotion in tossing expired medication, used Ace bandages and unclaimed toothbrushes, or in consolidating half-empty boxes of Band-Aids. Those baby steps strengthened my discard muscle. Next I said goodbye to fragrances and lipsticks I never use. In cleaning out, I unearthed a cache of skin creams and cleansers that I like. I now keep some handy for daily use, and store others in a beautifully decorated gift box I’d been reluctant to part with. Keeping and using the box this way fit several Kondo principles. First, she says, “Everything you own wants to be of use to you.” Second, she says, don’t buy storage containers. Instead, use things you already own: shoeboxes, stationery boxes, decorative bowls. Third, Kondo is no minimalist. “Adorn your home with the things you love,” she urges.

My pretty box now brightens a shelf. Folding is also critical. Kondo says every foldable object has its own “sweet spot ... a folded state that best suits that item.” I’m still working on folding the bathroom towels just right, but after studying her techniques, I get the origamilike art of folding shirts.


Don’t clean shelves and drawers one by one, Kondo says. Instead, sort by category to “compare items that are similar in design, making it easier to decide whether you want to keep them.” In the kitchen, I surveyed all the bakeware at once, shedding excess cookie cutters and muffin tins. A dozen random mugs and two teapots were given away. I counted a dozen vases and kept four. I was stunned to find nearly 40 portable water bottles tucked in cupboards; I kept two. I also stacked items by shape, as Kondo suggests, transforming cluttered shelves. Then I gathered decorative platters and bowls, many of them gifts that weren’t to my taste, and employed her ritual: “Take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” As I proceeded, I contemplated the gift-givers’ kindness. “You don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift,” Kondo writes. “Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it.” Along the way, I found things I love, like a carved wooden dish I now use to display fruit. I hesitated over my mom’s ornate, silver-plated sugar-andcreamer, which I’ll never use. But I cleaned the tarnish off and a friend pronounced them • See Decluttering, Page 11

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Saturday, April 23, 2016


5 seasonal cleaning projects you can’t put off any longer

(BPT) — Another winter has passed and warm weather is on its way. That means it’s time to say hello to all-things spring: budding flowers, walks to the park and...spring cleaning. While cleaning this spring might not be as much fun as grilling burgers out on the deck, it’s pretty much a necessity. After months of colder weather and closed windows, chances are your house is in need of a serious refresh. But this year’s cleaning doesn’t have to be a daunting or scary task. These simple projects can help you get started. • Clean the blinds. Instead of simply dusting, give your curtains, blinds and drapes a deeper clean. Remove them from the walls and wash them thoroughly - according to manufacturer instructions – before rehanging them. This

is also a great opportunity to inspect their hanging apparatus for repairs or for any tightening that needs to be done. • Re-caulk your kitchen and bathroom. Because kitchens and bathrooms are high traffic areas with high exposure to water and moisture, you may have noticed a buildup of mold, mildew, dirt and stains on the caulk. No need to avert your gaze. Simply remove the old material caulk, thoroughly clean the area to remove any dirt or residue, then re-caulk. • Clean your refrigerators drain coils and pan. Throughout the winter, dust can collect on your refrigerator’s coils and mold can grow in the drain pan. To clean the coils, first identify where they are. In some refrigerators the coils are on the back while other units feature the coils on the bottom. Once you find them, check the kick plate to see if it is screwed on – if so, remove it with a screwdriver. Clean the coils with a vacuum or soft brush and replace the plate. Then, remove the drain pan and scrub it using hot, soapy water and a sponge or brush. Dry completely before replacing.

• Decluttering, From Page 10

able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order,” she writes. Kondo is fine with keeping things you don’t use, as long as “you can say without a doubt, ‘I really like this!’” So I kept the flowered confection of a hat I bought in England, although I’ll never wear it. She also says nothing is too special for everyday wear. So now I wear a favorite black velvet top to work.

“shabby chic.” They now decorate a windowsill. As Kondo says, “If you have items that you love even though they seem useless, please give them a turn in the spotlight.”


I dumped all my clothes on my bed and dove in. Some didn’t fit, or were stained or damaged. Some were gifts, or I’d bought them on vacation. I sent the rejects off with Kondo’s blessing: “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you,” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me.” “By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be


I have a dark, scary closet under the ceiling that I’ve been throwing stuff into for 20 years. Kondo emboldened my excavation. Crumbling 1970s luggage? Out! Subzero military boots

• Seal out pests, dirt and drafts. Unwanted pests and drafts can sneak in through gaps and cracks around pipes, ducts, vents and baseboards. Be sure to check around your home, both inside and out, especially in basements, attics and garages. Use a caulk or bought secondhand for a winter trip to Alaska? Donated to the Salvation Army. My outdoorsy son’s camping equipment stayed, but Kondo’s folding techniques helped reduce the space needed for his weatherproof clothing and bedding. Once again, forgotten treasures emerged: artwork from Morocco, a carved wooden bowl that belonged to my late mother-in-law. Both are now on display. “By the time you finish, you’ll see something you love everywhere you look,” Kondo writes. And that’s her real genius: “You are not choosing what to discard but rather what to keep.”

sealant to seal up gaps half an inch or less. For gaps larger than half an inch in width, use an insulating foam seal such as DAPtex Plus to fill up those gaps and keep pests at bay. • Refresh your floors. Months of bringing in snow and dirt-covered shoes and boots have likely left your floors looking like a battleground! Whether you have carpet, wood or tile, a thorough cleaning will give flooring a

much needed refresh. Applying a fresh coat of wax to wood or sealant to tile will help lock-in the new look. If waxing, make sure to match your floor type for the best results. Rather than put off the annual spring cleaning ritual - embrace it. By performing a few basic tasks, you’ll be able to enjoy the season – and your home – in a refreshing style that you and your family deserve.

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Turn empty nest into ultimate ‘boomer cave’

(BPT) — The kids are off to college or living in homes of their own, and you have regained a big chunk of your house. It’s time to indulge and transform your home with a space especially designed for you. If you have been dreaming

of a “boomer cave” – a place where you can get away to relax, watch TV or read – now is the perfect time to make it a reality. Creating a cozy “getaway” room in your house to relax doesn’t require any special home improvement skills or interior design panache.

Simply follow a few steps and get ready to celebrate with friends and family. Step 1: Upgrade the TV The piece de resistance of any empty nester’s boomer cave is the television. It doesn’t matter what program you’re passionate about – a grand tel-


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evision will be the focal point of the room. Whether a gift to yourself or a gift to your partner, a quality TV is a worthwhile investment. Step 2: Find comfortable furniture There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a boomer cave, so it’s common to forego the traditional couch and set up the area with multiple reclining chairs. This gives everyone their own space to kick back, relax and enjoy the show. When setting up the room, ensure the arrangement gives each viewer an uninterrupted sightline to the screen but does not block any main walkways and still complements the aesthetic of the room. Many people put chairs about nine feet from a TV, but experiment to find what is best for you. Step 3: Add amazing extras Add personalized elements and the space will truly feel unique. Frame favorite vacation photos, art or sports memorabilia. Add ambient

lighting. Paint the walls your favorite colors. When it comes to boomer caves, the sky is the limit. Beyond decor, a few extras can make the space more enjoyable. A wet bar with a variety of glasses is a nice touch. Built-in charging stations ensure everyone stays connected. Card games add a casino feel. Workout buffs may want to add weights. Step 4: Don’t forget about the grad Now that the parents are in boomer-cave heaven, it’s important not to forget about that hard-working grad. Send your love to your favorite young professional by gifting them a sleek, new ultra-lightweight laptop. Of course, any time you’re missing your graduate, you can always invite him or her over for some quality time in the cave. Remember, just because it’s a cave meant for parents, doesn’t mean it can’t be the whole family’s new favorite room in the house.

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‘Spring cleaning’ is a chance to update decor, trends By KIM COOK Associated Press

For some people, spring cleaning entails not much more than a good shake of the carpets. For others, it’s an excuse to update room décor. Here’s a sampling of this season’s new palettes, patterns and styles:


Neither boring nor drab, new neutrals are about bringing home a sense of calm and comfort. Some pastels are chalkier, like sorbet that’s been given a whisk of cream. Then there are the organic hues of earth, sky and water. We see neutrals most often in minimalist décor, like an unglazed, branch-shaped pitcher at CB2 the color of a stormy sea, or Ikea’s trim Mostorp media unit in a soft, rosy hue. Even Le Creuset is offering its signature cast ironware in pale pink and lemon. Los Angeles designer Joy Cho’s new collection at Target is filled with fun, frothy pieces like an acrylic side table covered in polka dots, animal figurines in little party hats, and printed throw pillows and wall art saying, “You’re okay.” Warm neutrals – peach, blush, putty, mint and charcoal – contribute to the airy, feel-good vibe. West Elm has partnered with Roar + Rabbit design studio on a home collection that includes a sexy, midcentury-modern swivel chair dressed in shades called lichen, nickel or dusky blush velvet. The energy shifts with several bold hues that ride the current retro wave. Turquoise, acid yellow, emerald, pink and red are showing up, mostly in accessories and textiles. Kirstin Hoffman, merchandising director for online decor retailer Dot & Bo, says hot pinks are trending: “Whether they’re incorporated in an accent chair or a planter, the look instantly adds energy to a room.” A range of new baking items and dish towels at Crate & Barrel come in a yellow as cheery as a sunnyside-up egg. And you’ll be seeing lots of lush, green, tropical motifs for spring and summer. Beautiful blues – sapphire, navy and a variety of turquoises, teals and pale blues – are strong players on the spring palette.

Wisteria has a settee in a rich jewel tone, while Ikea’s got new loveseat covers in deep and delicate blues. Boston Interiors’ Conrad chair is upholstered in a watercolor-blue abstract, while Farrow & Ball has added some lush hues, including Vardo, a teal, and Inchyra Blue, a dramatic blue-gray. White – which Benjamin Moore named color of the year – is also trending. The timing’s perfect, says Kimberly Winthrop of Laurel & Wolf: “Bright white is spring cleaning in its truest sense. There’ll be a lot of focus this year on incorporating whites with natural elements and textures into one’s space.” Consider painting an existing piece of furniture, bringing in side tables or lighting, or changing window coverings to white.


Surfaces are the focus in distressed rugs, textured throw pillows, and relief-patterned and pin-tucked textiles and wall coverings. Printed, dyed velvets with flora or fauna-inspired patterns are luxe and painterly; Kevin O’Brien and Beacon Hill have collections. Some furniture designs play with layers and lines. West Elm has a mirror named Tree Ring that fuses mirrored glass with a slice of Vietnamese hardwood. An Indian pouf at the retailer is crafted from chunks of jute and cotton like a 3-D rag rug. Cork has popped up in lots of new décor. Accessories in particular lend themselves to the sustainable material’s pleasant feel, but it’s in furniture now, too. Ikea’s new Sinnerlig collection from London designer Ilse Crawford includes stools and benches with cork seats, as well as coffee and dining tables. Cork lampshades at AllModern and Luxe Décor throw a warm light. And check out 1stDibs, Chairish and eBay for ‘70s-era vintage cork table lamps. Metallics aren’t going away, says Chicago interior designer Mikel Welch. But warmer versions are overtaking the chillier chromes and silvers. “This spring, we’ll begin to see a twist added,” he says. “From warm, rich, metallic upholstery and galvanized wallpaper to shimmering coffee tables, luxurious metallic finishes in pewter, gold and bronze will command attention.” Look for brushed copper, soft rose-gold accents, and painted metallics on throw pillows and wall art.


On the heels of the midcentury revival, some retailers are banking on the 1980s Italian postmodernist style known as Memphis to be the next big thing. Characterized by bold geometric designs and often clashing colors, it’s not for the faint of heart. Musician Lenny Kravitz has collaborated with CB2 on a furniture collection inspired by ‘70s-era New York club culture and the California music scene. A white lacquered media cabinet with brushed steel doors and a round, walnut-topped, white coffee table with concealed storage are standout pieces. Neon-hued acrylic fits the era’s vibe; Land of Nod has flamingo and palm-tree nightlights, while Los Angeles designer Alexandra von Furstenberg displayed a suite of sleek, neon acrylic serveware at the recent NY Now show. Crate & Barrel has launched ARTWORKS, a limited-edition collection of Modernist canvas prints.


Free-spirited, colorful and often pattern-happy, bohemian style is easy to embrace. Its influences are global: India, Africa, Latin America. But the eclecticism often comes from a mashup of decorative styles and layered elements. At NY Now, New York designer John Robshaw showed a collection of softly hued woodblock-printed textiles inspired by the gardens, crafts and clothing seen on his travels in Northern India. Hudson & Vine stocks a whimsical collection of animals crafted from reclaimed oil drums. Urban Outfitters has African mudcloth-printed bedding from Deny Designs; medallion-printed tapestries, rugs and pillow covers; and a selection of eclectic headboards made from macramé, reclaimed wood, rattan and iron. Homegoods has some carved and painted African objets d’art, trays and vases as well as kuba cloth poufs. One of Hoffman’s favorite trends this spring is a combination of boho and minimalism. Designs are pared down to core elements – color, pattern and texture. She suggests getting this eclectic style by using neutrals and accenting furniture with hints of deep indigo.

Super kitchens: Stove, sink, fridge ... and WiFi countertop? By MELISSA RAYWORTH Associated Press

American kitchens have always served as more than cooking and eating spaces. Generations of kids have done homework at kitchen tables. Parents claim counter space to organize family miscellany, tap out work emails on laptops or install a television.

But now those work and entertainment uses are part of kitchen design from the get-go. The era of the “super kitchen” has arrived. “Our findings show that homeowners expect kitchen renovations to go far beyond improving flow, storage or aesthetics,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal

economist at, in announcing the site’s 2016 Kitchen Trends Survey. “The ‘super kitchen’ has literally become a living room, family room and office, with finishes, layouts and decor that challenge us to define where the kitchen ends and the rest of the home begins.” Interior designer Mikel Welch calls

the kitchen “the new epicenter of the house.” “Everybody’s working from home,” and they often prefer doing that in an open kitchen rather than a sequestered home office. What are the features of a true “super kitchen”? • See Super Kitchens, Page 15

Saturday, April 23, 2016 • Super Kitchens, From Page 14


Designer Tiffany Brooks, host of HGTV’s “Most Embarrassing Rooms in America,” says homeowners want technology within easy reach, but protected from food and drink spills. Some add a built-in iPad docking area or laptop station on a counter, while others choose the less expensive option of adding a tablet dock mounted under a cabinet, with an arm that swings out. People also want power. Pop-up outlets are being installed directly into countertops, says Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for the Home Depot. Wireless “charging countertops” are also available, including LG’s Tech Top and Dupont Corian. And homeowners are adding extra power outlets throughout the kitchen, and designing dedicated charging areas with power strips. The goal, says Fishburne, is to have “many outlets readily available for anything you might need to plug in, from computer to glue gun.” Another tech choice: Dishwashers that run almost silently, so they won’t distract you while you’re working in the kitchen. And full-size televisions are being added to the main cooking area so you can do your binge-watching in the same place where you try to avoid bingeeating. The traditional focus of kitchen planning — a stove-sink-refrigerator triangle — has become a square, Welch says, with the TV added as a core necessity. Occasionally, new kitchen technology does involve food: “Warming drawers are huge,” Brooks says. Because many people work nontraditional hours, “somebody is cooking at 2,” she says, “but then somebody is eating at 5, and somebody is coming home at 9.” And some people, Welch says, “want to essentially bring Starbucks to them.” Restaurant-quality drink facilities are being added to home kitchens, including elaborate built-in tea and coffee stations, built-in soda systems, faucets with a sparkling water spigot and temperaturecontrolled wine refrigerators.


“An emerging trend is two islands being incorporated into a kitchen, if there is space,” says Fishburne. “This allows for a prep island and an island to accommodate other family functions like work or homework while you are preparing dinner.” Several of Welch’s design clients have requested oversize countertops that “allow six to eight people to comfortably sit with barstools,” he says. Lounging-friendly seating is a priority, whether or not guests will be eating. If a kitchen doesn’t have space for a sectional sofa or other large seating, some homeowners are knocking down walls to merge the kitchen with other rooms. Houzz says half of its survey respondents reported making their kitchens more open to other indoor spaces. And along with opening up the kitchen to the rest of the house, many homeowners are decorating the kitchen to match other rooms. “The kitchen is becoming a lot prettier,” Brooks says. “It is what the living room was” years ago. The kitchen backsplash area can be a creative showcase, the designers say, using custom-made tiles or even antique mirrored glass. Kitchen storage, too, is becoming more stylish and more organized. Closet-design systems originally conceived for bedroom closets are now being used to organize kitchen cabinets and pantries, Brooks says. And rather than cramming work papers or family files into a cabinet designed for dishes, designers are building office and crafts storage into the kitchen. Many kitchens now have desks or computer workstations, and the days of bringing in “horrible, chunky rolling cabinets” to store files is over, says Welch. Non-kitchen items are stored in “builtins that match the rest of the kitchen.” Whether they’re asking for the most flattering lighting or details like high-end brass cabinet pulls, clients want everything to be beautiful, Welch says. More than ever, they want “that visual ‘wow’ factor.”

journal tribune Spring Home & Garden

Are your windows killing birds? How to prevent crashes: By DIANA MARSZALEK Associated Press

With a house close to the Eastern Pennsylvania woods – and the wildlife that lives there – Jeff Acopian wrestled with a problem that afflicts homeowners around the country. “Birds were hitting our windows and dying,” the Easton resident says. “And we didn’t like it.” An engineer by profession and a naturalist at heart, Acopian came up with a solution: Acopian BirdSavers, a fixture that involves dangling pieces of parachute cord in front of windows to keep birds from flying into them. “It sounds pretty bad when you tell someone to hang strings on their front window,” says Acopian, who nixed his original remedy, hanging strings of beads, because it made his house look like “a hippie pad.” “But when people actually see it, it is not objectionable at all,” he says. BirdSavers (at birdsavers. com) is one of a growing number of options available for folks who want to keep birds from crashing into their windows but don’t want to hurt their home’s curb appeal in the process. Christine Sheppard, who runs the bird collisions campaign for the American Bird Conservancy, cites

a range of relatively simple ready-made products – BirdSavers, window tape and external screens among them – as well as DIY fixes like washable window paint or hanging branches in front of windows, that are effective enough while also being subtle. “You can reduce collisions without making your house ridiculous,” Sheppard says. While bird collisions are hardly new, she says, the magnitude of the problem is increasing, largely due to more widespread urbanization and a trend toward larger panes of glass in both residential and high-rise construction. Birds are either fooled by the transparency of the glass, or believe the reflections they see in them – trees, shrubs and the like – are real, and die trying to reach them, she says. Window collisions kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, making them, with cats, one of the two leading human-related causes of bird mortality. Conservationists say the number of birds killed by collisions and cats will soon rise to 1 billion per year. But Joanna Eckles, the National Audubon Society’s bird-friendly communities manager, says individuals can easily reduce those numbers simply by putting some visual barrier on the exterior of the windows that birds are drawn to. “The big thing that people need to get is that this isn’t something that has to happen,” she says. “This is preventable.”


That prevention, she says, could take a range of shapes. The American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Tape, available at abcbirdtape. org, is translucent and can be used to design patterns on windows. Bird screen, available at, creates a barrier between birds and windowpanes. CollidEscape, available at, is a film that you put on outside windowpanes to reduce reflection. The options are infinite for do-it-yourselfers, Eckles says. With washable paint, you can use stencils or let the kids create holiday decorations. Hanging virtually anything easy on the eyes – ribbons, delicate branches, strings – in front of windows will do the trick. So will the unobtrusive netting that’s used to protect fruit trees. Not every window needs to be made bird-safe, nor do all windows need the same remedy. It’s up to homeowners to decide, based on which windows attract birds, and at what time of day or year. “There are a million ways people have handled this in beautiful ways,” Eckles says. “You are only restricted by your own rules.” Sheppard agrees. “No one should feel constricted with what they use.” “Most conservation stories just make you depressed, feeling like there is little you can do about it besides giving money,” Sheppard says. “But in this case, you can actually do something.”


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Saturday, April 23, 2016

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